Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A little bird with a big voice.....

Tonight I had one of those amazing, Grandma moments.  I got to see Lia perform in her first musical.  It was a children's production of "Annie".  Now this is interesting for a couple of reasons.  When Gwen was young she just about drove us crazy by watching the video of the Annie, over and over.  As a matter of fact, not so long ago, Ken and I decided to use the "parent's curse" and gave Lia a DVD of this same movie.  And Lia loved it almost as much as Gwen did.  So, when she said she was going to audition for this musical, I wasn't really surprised.  However, she is only in second grade and 7 years old.  A lot of the kids who auditioned had already been in previous musicals put on by this Theatre Club.  Lia was given a speaking and solo singing part as a "lead orphan".  Quite a big deal for her.   She learned all of her lines, went to all the practices, and did a fantastic job tonight. 
Oh how she loves to sing and dance.  And she loves the stage. 

I couldn't help but think about her name frame.  
Lia is that little bird with a big voice.   I am sure that there will be many times in the future when I will see Lia walking out this prophetic word.  I can't wait to see exactly how that happens, but I know it will.  I wrote recently about her strong faith.  An important part of Lia's word was that she was going to be a voice to her generation.  She would reach her peers and lead them to the truth of Jesus.   As we were leaving tonight after the production, over and over kids were calling out to Lia with congratulations and "see you tomorrow".  She is a well liked little girl. I am quite sure that there will be many, many times when I will see and hear Lia, on the stage fulfilling her destiny. 

I was thinking about the "Seven Mountains" that Lance Wallnau speaks about.  The  7 Mountains Mandate, in which Christians seeks to gain influence over the "mountains" of government, church, education, family, media, arts, and business.  Sometimes it is difficult to see that our destiny from Jesus might take us away from the church, and land us directly in the arts.  I love that I was reminded today that might be the case for my Lia.   No matter which mountain she ends up on, she WILL be that big voice that speaks the truth, and changes people. 

Jesus, thank you for Lia and all of those kids in her production.  Bless all the workers who guide these children.  Give them grace and patience.   Jesus thank you for reminding me that you are with us in all things, wherever you lead us, no matter what the mountain we land on.  Holy Spirit, speak clearly to us so that we can see your destiny for ourselves and our families. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Times of transitions......

When you wake up, and it is cold and rainy and dark and gloomy, it is hard to feel good.  I know I have blogged a lot about the weather over the last months.  And I should NOT be complaining because it was not snowing.  I noticed on my newsfeed on Facebook this morning, that several of my friends had snow in their areas.  Driving up to Gwen's in a downpour rain storm was no fun.  And it is no fun getting kids and backpacks and all the stuff that you need, along with a baby and all of that stuff, the middle of a downpour.   But as I was waiting to drop off Ellie and Zeke in their respective rooms for preschool, I noticed something.   There were lots and lots of really happy kids running around.  They were wearing raincoats (that in some cases were a bit too big), rain boots, and many held fun and fancy umbrellas.  They were so glad to finally have rain so that they could use all of these wonderful accessories.  I couldn't pass up this picture, outside of Ellie's classroom.  And the truly ironic part of this picture is that Ellie did NOT wear boots today!  And anyone who knows Ellie, knows that she has been known to wear those rain boots when it is 70 and sunny.  Or 30 and snowy.  But for some reason, today she choose to wear her "heels" (her dress up shoes that have a small heel). 

Anna was being very good this morning, and took a long nap.  So I had plenty of time to think and pray.   What a gift this special time is!  (I am so thankful for this day off that was intended to help Gwen, but has also turned out to be such an amazing time for me, on so many levels).  One of the first things that came to my mind was that I had seen  rows of snow boots for many months, but this was the first time there had been RAIN boots. So I am celebrating that there has been a transition!  Yes, in the physical...from snow to rain.  From winter to spring. From snow boots to rain boots.  But can't you just "feel" the transition in the Spiritual also?   I can't quite describe it, or put my finger on it, but to me to feels like a shift has happened.  

To be honest, this year has not been a "beautiful spring".  There have hardly been any flowers around yet.  The trees haven't bloomed yet. (Still waiting on our tree to bloom).  But today I was thinking how wonderful the rain really is.  Both the physical rain and the Spiritual rain.  Most years the rain is just sort of an annoyance in the early spring.  This year the rain is so much more.  It says that there will be NO MORE SNOW!  In the Spiritual, the rain of the Holy Spirit this year seems to also have that same more darkness and cold.  I don't know about you, but in worship and/or prayer there seems to be an anticipation and excitement that is just different.  It feels a lot like those little preschoolers must have felt this morning.   You know, excited and happy and glowing and free - just because it was raining.   I can't wait to see what is coming! 

Jesus, thank you so much for rain!  Thank you for washing us clean in your blood.  Thank you for that Spiritual rain that the Holy Spirit brings to us.  Jesus keep us all expectant and excited about what you have in store for us.  Remind us to celebrate each day like those kids. Give us courage and grace to run in the rain and jump in the puddles.    Amen

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Finding Balance in all things.........

I just love this picture of my three little sweeties.  This was a wonderful trip to the park on Easter Sunday.   Lia's stance is the perfect picture of balance.  This is not an easy task for Lia.  She is doing a great job, even though, it is work!  I woke up this morning thinking about balance.  It was a surprise to me, since this has not been a particularly busy or crazy weekend.   As I was standing in the shower, I was wondering why this word was so on my mind.  I felt the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, "Just Wait!".  Interesting.  There must be something on the horizon that will require a "balancing act" on my part. 

I've been so thankful that I've been able to do a bit of balancing this year, as I have only been working 4 days a week so that I can spend 1 day helping Gwen with the kids.  The work/family balancing is really something.  It is actually very hard for me to NOT work full time.   Some of it is the financial aspect of it, but it just feels odd to not be always working.   I am so thankful that the job change I had in October paved the way for this.  It's one more way that I love to see the hand of Jesus on ALL THINGS!  Even those really hard things like a job change.  Now, to know that this ability to BALANCE was all part of the plan, makes it mean so much more. 

Then this evening I felt a bit of that balancing act coming into play.  I was ready to go out to a Sunday night meeting, but it was doing a bit of storming.  So, I wasn't ready to run out the door.  Even though I got a phone call from a friend who was actually AT the event I was intending to get to, I still just couldn't quite get out the door.   I felt the need to balance my desire to attend that event and this feeling that I should stay home.   Thankfully, the RAIN made it easier.    Then my phone rang.  It was another good friend that I had not spoken to for some time.  We needed to catch up!  Just as that call came to an end, another friend called me.  Once again, it was a call that I needed to have.   And at the end of that conversation, Gwen called me.   I needed to be home tonight to take those calls.

While I still have the feeling that there might well be a much bigger, more difficult balance coming my way, I am not very worried right now.   As a matter of fact, I just LOVE the picture.  The kids were so happy and having so much fun!  There was so much JOY!  I will remember that joy and be thankful tomorrow when I balance my way to Gwen's!  I can't wait for those hugs and kisses that are sure to welcome me in the morning. And I will seek to remember that joy, no matter what comes up that requires a balancing act that seems out of my ability.  Because, of course, it will NOT be too much for Jesus!  I'll let Him do the balancing!   

Jesus, thank you for your love and your care.  I am so grateful for my job and the freedom that I have to spend time with my kids and grandkids.  Holy Spirit, thank you for revelation and putting a thought into my heart.  Continue to speak and give me wisdom and grace to balance!  Amen

And here is a bonus picture of the adults and Anna (and dogs) also enjoying the park on Easter! (Hey, I'm balancing a picture of the kids with a picture of the adults!)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Another part of my story.... Eternal Prayers!

 Johann Conrad Tonsing (1801-1869) and Anna Clara Welcher (1806-1876)
(My great-great grandparents)
Clara Marie (Weingartner) Toensing (1838-1889)  and Ernst Fredrich Toensing (1834-1912)
(my great grandparents)
Last night, one of the artists actually asked me to talk about something I had mentioned in passing in my talk.  It was about my great grandparents and my great-great grandparents.  I shared that one of the first times I really realized how connected I was to my ancestors was when I stepped off the airplane in Kenya, Africa.  The Lord brought me revelation that my Africa trip was a fulfillment of years and years of prayers that were prayed by my great grandparents and my great-great grandparents and it helped me to understand the plan and destiny that Jesus had for me!  Somewhere in the late 1860's, in Germany, my ancestors were preparing to bring Jesus into all the world.  Johann and Anna were sending two sons, with their wives and children, to the United States.  They were also sending one daughter and her husband to Africa, into the unknown.  Ernst, (my great grandfather) and his brother were their two sons.  My great grandfather, Ernst and his wife Clara had been married for about 8 years and they had 4 children (an infant, 3, 5 and 6 year old).  They traveled from Germany by boat and unfortunately, their infant died at some point during the trip.  My mom always talked about how tragic this must have been for her grandmother.   After settling in St. Paul, Minnesota, my great grandparents went on to have five more children including my grandfather, Henry Arnold Toensing.   Although my mom never knew Clara and Ernst, she was told often that they had prayed for their cousins in Africa.  And she was told that they also prayed that someone in their family would go to Africa - not just to VISIT those cousins, but to share Jesus.   For me, that "AH HA" moment was the understanding that PRAYERS ARE ETERNAL! What we pray about may not find fulfillment until long after our earthly life is over, but OUR PRAYERS EFFECT THE SPIRITUAL ATMOSPHERE  AND THOSE THAT COME AFTER US! 
I am so grateful that Johann and Anna knew, at some level, that their family - their future family, had a destiny to share Jesus in Africa.  And I am grateful that they were brave and courageous and sent their children all over the world.  Johann died in Germany.  Anna came to the United States and died on her grandson's farm near Atwater, Minnesota.  She is buried (as is  my great grandfather Ernst) in the church graveyard near Atwater.  Clara died in St. Paul and is buried in our family plot
So, after that really long and drawn out story (and thanks for staying with me), THAT is why those name frames for Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna are so important.  Because those words will not be lost or forgotten.  They will be prayed and talked about as the kids grow up.  I have been praying those words and I will continue to pray them - making the declaration into the Spiritual realms that are eternal.  I am convinced that one day.... who knows how long from now..... there will be a deeper understanding of the Prophet, Warrior, Priest and King expressed in those frames.  
Today, I encourage all of you to pray and seek understanding, not only of the present, but of the past.  You will be blessed as you begin to see a clearer picture of the destiny that Jesus has for your family.   Ask for revelation of the destiny for your future generations.   Pray and declare all that you receive.  It will effect those that come after you! 
Jesus, thank you for the faith and trust my ancestors had in you and the Gospel message.   Holy Spirit, thank you for the revelations that you have given me.  Help all of us to take in this message and meditate on all that you bring to us.   Thank you for reminding us that prayers DO change things!    Amen
PS -  Just a little added note.... when looking at these old pictures and confirming dates, I noticed that there are 66 Anna's on my Toensing family tree!  Yep, Anna is a family name for sure!  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fish out of water.... and much more

I had an amazing experience tonight.   I have blogged about the book "Speaking To The Heart" by Lynn Zuk-Lloyd, that includes the scrapbook frames I made for Lia, Ellie and Zeke. Tonight there was a gathering that included some of the artists from that book.  Lynn very graciously invited me to attend and speak a bit about my "artwork".  I couldn't imagine what I would share and being surround by so many who are truly artists, was a bit intimidating.  I did feel like a fish out of water.  I was praying that Jesus would give me the exact message that I needed to share for this audience.  And, in the end, I shared something very different than I had planned.  When I sat down, I wondered why I was there.  When Lynn introduced me, she shared that I was the first person to introduce her to "prophetic art".  I had led a prophetic watercolor painting workshop that she had attended and it was the first time she experienced seeing a message in art. I was stunned.  I had one of those "hind sight" experiences of understanding how Jesus uses everything that we do.  Then, after the event ended and all of the people were milling about one of these amazing artists came up to me and expressed how I had inspired her to create a piece of art for her grandson.  She had never thought of asking Jesus for a prophetic word for her grandson.  I was able to pray with her to encourage her to know that destiny and to give her inspiration for the art piece.  These  two separate things confirmed to me, that Jesus was certainly the author of this event. 

As I was saying goodbye to Lynn and thanking her for this event, I was telling her about finding the "art" pictured above.   This paper had been crumbled in my nightstand drawer and I had just found it recently.  This is the first piece of watercolor prophetic art I ever did.  It was this picture that propelled me into doing the workshop that Lynn attended.  I hadn't really thought about how important this paper was.....that is, until tonight.   I think I will frame this and hang it where I can continue to see new and amazing things, through that artwork.  What do you see in this painting? I have a feeling that there are many different things being said in this painting. 

So this is my encouragement to you all.  Pick up some crayons, or colored pencils, or water colors and a piece of paper.   Put on some wonderful praise music.   Don't think or plan.  Just do.  Put that color on the page and let your mind go.  When you have filled up that paper, stop and ask Jesus what he is saying about this work of art.  You will be amazed at the results! 

Jesus, thank you, again for Lynn and this book "Speaking To The Heart".  Jesus, you are speaking to MY heart through this book in really amazing and wonderful ways. Continue to bless everyone who opens this book.  Help us all to be open to creating and expressing all that you are and give to us. Give us all courage to ask you for prophetic words, and inspiration to preserve those words in art.  Amen 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sisters are different flowers from the same garden.

This picture is my sister Julie, sister Karen and me taken in 1985 at the time of my dad's death. Today is all about my sister Karen.  I can't begin to express how much I have realized the loss of my sister Karen in the last several years.  I don't know if it is because of my age (nearing 60) or if it is the loss of my mom also, but over and over I have felt that I would love to talk to Karen!  And the funny thing about that is that we didn't talk all that much.  We didn't see each other very often either.   I talked with Julie, my other sister, yesterday and we had a good chat, just catching up on the family news.  At the end of that conversation, it hit me that I would love to be able to have a conversation like that with Karen.  While I am thankful for Facebook and the ability to stay somewhat in the loop with Karen's kids, it really is not the same.  In thinking back, during my growing up years, Karen seemed much more like an aunt than a sister to me because of our age difference.    When I got married, things changed, I think because I was now relating to Karen "adult to adult".  And then when Gwen was born, it was "mom to mom".  Sadly Karen and I didn't have much time to relate "grandma to grandma" since Lia was only 11 months old when Karen died. 

I love this picture of Karen and her friend (sorry, but I don't know her name) and my mom and I.  It was taken in the summer of 1955 before I was a year old.   When I look at this picture of Karen, I think about all the movies and stories I have read about being a teenager in the 1950's.   What a different time it was than the 1970's when I was a teenager.  My mom often said that she raised kids in so many different "generations"  - the 50's and the 60's and the 70's.  What a wide time span and interesting changing lifestyles.  Let's face it, by the time I was in high school, there wasn't a dress code!  Very different than the 50's.  I remember my sister Julie setting her hair in rollers.....EVERY NIGHT... before going to bed.   I had long straight hair all through high school. I didn't own a curling iron until long after I was married.  I think Karen set her hair in pin curls.   Yep, we had very different  experiences growing up.  But we are still sisters. Just as my post title today says.... sister are different flowers from the same garden! 
My sister Karen had an amazing singing voice.  I always wished that I could sing like her.   When I realized that Gwen had that same musical, wonderful voice, I was so pleased.   And I believe that Karen and Gwen had a special connection since Karen was Gwen's Godmother.   And this is part of how amazing a spiritual heritage is in a family.  These special gifts that are sown into generations of a family and then "bloom" in future children.  I think of our grandmother, Nora Larson Toensing, who had such an amazing voice that when she sang in church in the summer, people could hear her miles away, as her voice carried on the breezes through the open windows and doors of the church.   Yes, I believe that Jesus has a plan and destiny for our family and this is just one way of seeing the fulfillment of that.  I love that our family "garden" has seeds that have been sown by Jesus and only he knows exactly what that garden in full bloom will look like.  Yes, sisters are different flowers in the same garden, but we share so much that has been lovingly placed in that garden.  We share a destiny and our lives are woven together, connected not only by the past, but by the future.  
Jesus,  thank you.  I love that you take moments and memories and help us see beyond our own thoughts and feelings to see from your perspective.   Holy Spirit, thank you for using this blog to help me gain a better understanding of how you work in our families.  Help us all to continue to go deeper into you and to see with your eyes.  Thank you for my family.  Amen

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter recap....

We had a simply wonderful Easter!  Just love these little sweeties.  Notice the hats, the gloves, the jewelry. the vest, the tie.  Yes, this is one of the best things about Easter.  I guess I am to blame for this, since Gwen was saying that she remembers always having a hat and gloves for Easter. I am responsible for the girls matching dresses.  I just love finding these and I figure we only have a few years until they refuse to wear them! 

We were all together at Gwen and Tim's yesterday and having a great time just sitting around and talking.  Gwen and Doug started talking about what they remembered about Easters from their childhood.  Doug said he only really remembered the year that he got a fishing pole (this is really no surprise since that boy loves to fish!).    Gwen was recounting the hat and gloves that she had most Easters.  This is the photo proof of that from 1984 when Doug was just 2 and Gwen was almost 5. 

This got me thinking about one Easter that I remember. I believe it was 1962 (it could have been a year or two later, I am really not sure).    I had gone with my mom and dad and brother Greg to visit my sister Karen and her family and celebrate Easter in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  While I was still young enough to really wait for that Easter basket, my brother should have been beyond the basket stage.  But, to keep the peace and humor Greg, he was getting a candy filled basket also.  In my family we always had to find the basket that had been hidden somewhere in the house.  We never hid eggs or did an egg hunt.  I remember that I found my basket quite quickly in a sort of "window box" that was on the stairwell of their house.  I was so delighted.  However, Greg could not find his basket.  He looked and looked and as time went on, got more and more upset.  My favorite memory of this day is my mom and sister Karen sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee, just laughing.  The funny thing was, they were watching the clock very closely!  They needed Greg to find that basket that was hidden in the oven so that Karen could start the Easter ham!  I think that they finally gave him so many hints that he found it.   My mom always laughed about this whenever we talked about Easter.  I love thinking about Karen and Mom having coffee around the kitchen table, laughing and talking.  

Our day yesterday began with an amazing worship service at Gwen and Tim's church.  During the service the pastor talked about church being a place that welcomes anyone and everyone comes exactly as they are.  Of course, he shared that Jesus is the answer to every problem and situation that we might have.   During the final song, people from the congregation went to the front of the sanctuary holding signs that represented many common situations -  divorce, cancer, depression, anxiety, illness, worry, hopelessness, fear, pain, addiction - among other things (this is just a sample of things I remember seeing).  During the song, they turned their signs over to reveal things like HOPE, RECOVERY, FAITH, PEACE, HEALTH!  It was such a visual reminder of what all of us have gained because of the cross and the resurrection.  I loved this!   Everyone could look at those signs and look into their own life and see what Jesus has done for them.   It was wonderful.   Thank you Jesus!

I am so grateful that Easter fell right in the middle of this difficult month for me.  I love that there is this reminder for me that Jesus is ALIVE and because of His great love for us all, we can celebrate in the midst of loss. What an amazing gift of life and love. 

Jesus, thank you for Easter, for resurrection, for joy and love and life!   Thank you for children and grand children and smiles and laughing and fun.   Thank you for 75 degrees and sunshine and the bursting forth of springtime.   Holy Spirit, remind all of us what you have done in our lives. Thank you for loving us and redeeming us.  Amen

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Remembering my dad on this Resurrection Eve

Twenty nine years ago, April 19th was after Easter.  I remember it well.  On Easter Sunday (which was April 7) my dad had a stroke and ended up in ICU.  My mom called me very early to tell me that they had rushed him to the hospital during the night.   I remember that I shared it with the Pastor and asked him to pray.   1985 had been a challenging year for us.   Doug had been in the hospital most of January and February, culminating with having his kidney removed.  Just after recovering from that surgery, he caught chicken pox (from Gwen).  I had missed lots of work and now I needed to go to Minnesota to see my dad.   So, I planned a last minute weekend trip, by myself, flying up to be with my mom and visit my dad.  During all the three years of my dads illness and dialysis, my mom never expected me to come and visit.  It was the same time that Doug was so sick and she knew that I couldn't leave him.  So, when she said that I needed to come, I knew I needed to go.   I left two unhappy, sick (scratchy) kids with Ken and made the trip.  I am glad that I did.  I visited on the 13th and 14th and flew home on the 15th.  My dad died on April 19.  My dad had not really responded to anyone much at all, yet when I talked to him, he immediately asked about Ken and the kids.  Everyone in the room was so surprised.   Later the doctor asked him if he wanted to stop his dialysis and he shook his head no.  But later that day they were unable to do the dialysis since his blood pressure kept dropping.  Even though his will to live was so strong, his body had just had enough.  

The picture above is from December of 1981, when I was pregnant with Doug.  My dad just loved Gwen.  He couldn't get over how verbal she was.  She was quite the talker and she loved to talk with her grandpa.  He loved to talk with her.  My dad, however,  was not very talkative about his faith, but I know that he believed in Jesus.   In the last years of his life, my parents were blessed with one of those special, amazing Pastors that really make a difference.   Pastor Bode drew my dad out and for the first time in his adult life, dad joined a Bible study.   Pastor Bode visited my dad almost daily in the hospital and was so supportive of my mom.  During his last visit with my dad, he read Psalm 121, my dad's very favorite Psalm.  And he reminded everyone at my dad's funeral, that we would see him again, and that he was celebrating with Jesus in heaven.  

I love that all I can think about tonight is the Resurrection!  Without Easter, we would not have that assurance that we had at dad's funeral.  What a wonderful gift!  I am so thankful for that faithful pastor who took the time to really get my dad to think about Jesus.  After years and years of working as a church secretary, I know that the Easter season is a very busy time for pastors and ALL church workers.   So I encourage you all to not only pray for your pastor, but also show you appreciation next week.   Make sure that they get their days off, and honor their time with their family.  Most importantly, share in the Resurrection celebration tomorrow!   He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Amen

Friday, April 18, 2014

What can you count on??

Today I discovered that "Priority Mail" at the United States Post Office, that is supposed to be delivered in 2 business days, is NOT guaranteed!  I was surprised and not pleased, to say the least.  You see, I had paid $12.00 to mail our Passport Renewals by Priority Mail, on April 11.  They went in two separate envelopes (per the instructions of the Passport Office) and were mailed in a way that could be tracked....hence the Priority Mail!  While we don't really "need" our passports (since we haven't planned anything yet for our vacation in June), we MIGHT find a way to put them to use that week.  Yes, we procrastinated and should have done this long ago. But thinking that one of our passports might be lost in the mail is not great.   On Monday, April 14, ONE of the checks cleared our bank account.   So I waited a couple of days, figuring that the other would clear.  Only to discover on the tracking sight that one of the two envelopes had sat at the Franklin Park sort center from April 11 until April 17.  Then it seemed to make its way to Philadelphia and was "out for delivery" today.   I just don't get it!   When you pay six dollars to mail something, you sort of just expect that you can count on it getting there in 2 or 3 days.   But, alas, it is the United States Post Office.  I should have known better.
I am so thankful that I know, on this Good Friday, exactly what I can count on...... Jesus.  I am so thankful for the events remembered on this day, and for the knowledge that Sunday is coming!  You can count on that.  Today I heard Kelley Mooney's spiritual lyrical adaptation of Leonard Cohen's   Hallelujah  (Click on Hallelujah to hear this song).  I just love the words she has put to this familiar song.  I love that I can remember all of the events of this week....starting at Palm Sunday and the wonderful praise and Hosannas.  Followed by the meaningful Passover Seder - Communion meal. And then the darkness and total sacrifice of Jesus for us on Good Friday.  This is followed by Sunday and the Hallelujah of resurrection, you can count on this!  All of this is about what God has done for us.  How much He loves us!  I have been redeemed!  Hallelujah! 

Yes, I am spending today, in quiet thankfulness, with a bit of Hallelujah thrown in for the reminder of what I CAN count on.  And I am thankful that our second passport hit the processing office today, one week behind the other.  Now, we just need to figure out where to go on vacation!

Jesus, thank you so much for your sacrifice on the cross.  Thank you for your great love and your amazing plan for this world and all of us.   Holy Spirit, thank you for reminders all around us of who you are and all that you have done for us.  Thank you for Kelley Mooney and her gift in song.  Bless her as she continues to share your story.  Continue to reveal Jesus to the world during these special days!  Amen 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What a difference a couple of days makes!

On Monday I wrote about our very odd and awful weather..... snow.  And I included a picture of our front yard.  Well, here it is Wednesday.... just two days later....and there are the buds on our tree.  Green, very obvious leaf buds.   What a big difference.   Don't you just love Chicago weather?  There is the old saying, "If you don't like the weather in Chicago, just wait for a bit, it's bound to change!" Needless to say, I am thrilled to see this green, new evidence that Spring MUST be close at hand!

Yesterday, was another one of those anniversary days for me.   Five years ago on April 15 my mother-in-law, Joanne Rowley, died.   She had been having health problems for several years and the last 6 months of her life she had been in and out of the hospital.   So, her passing in 2009, while sad, was not a surprise.   I looked through all of my pictures to try to find a picture of her and I from the last years of her life.  I was not successful.  I did find this picture of our family with Mom and Dad Rowley on the occasion of their 65th Wedding Anniversary in 2007.
What a blessing it is to have the legacy in our family of long marriages.  I love that Gwen and Doug have been able to see and celebrate 50, 60 and 65th wedding anniversaries, and 90th and even 95th birthdays.   How wonderful it is to be able to talk about these milestones and to remember and share.  I think I have mentioned that Joanne was an amazing artist. We have many, many of her pieces around our home, as do Doug and Gwen.  But I have to share my very favorite today.
This is a very small painting(only about 3" X 5") that Joanne did when she was selling items at art fairs.  I remember her surprise when I asked to have this painting.  It was something that she had just done quickly.  I can't explain why, but when I hold it in my hand and look at it, there is a feeling that comes over me.   Certainly, the subject matter appeals to me.  But I really believe that there is a "Holy Spirit" message in this.   I love that the path is the central focus of the picture.  The destination is not clear.  The path has a church on one side and a home on the other.  And there is balance in this picture.    The church is in the foreground and the home is set back.   This speaks to me of putting God first in all things, followed by family and home.  Then work and everything else should follow that.  In fact, those things should not even be "in the picture".  I can't help but reflect on how messy life can get, when you don't follow this pattern.  When work becomes the most important thing in your life, there is a problem.   When your interests become first on your mind, rather than God, things don't tend to go well.   This painting is in my scrapbooking room and I look at it all the time.   Even though I know that Joanne did not have any of this in mind when she did this painting, I know that Jesus had it in mind.   I am so thankful that she gave me this small painting.

Jesus, thank you for Joanne and the gifts and talents you gave to her.   Thank you for the legacy that you have put in our family that we continue to celebrate.  Holy Spirit, thank you for bringing revelation to me of your intent for that painting.  Jesus, you are God of life and creation.  Thank you for bringing a burst of Springtime after that shot of Winter.   Amen

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mosaics of our life... thanks to sweet Ellie!

Ellie is one of the most artist, creative kids I have ever seen.   Oh how I love this little girl!  She spends a large part of her day in "pretend" play.  Either with dress up or little people or dolls, she has a big story to tell.   She loves all kinds of crafts and often asks to paint.  You never know what Ellie will be wearing since she chooses her own clothes every day.  Ellie is not swayed by anyone!  She knows what she wants and she does not give up.   The prophetic word I received for her when she was born that that she is a Warrior of the Lord.  She would DECLARE and intercede and pray.  More than that, she would fight God's way.  She will still stand in high places and take back the land.  Yes, Ellie has the heart of this kind of warrior.  And she is clothed with compassion and mercy.  A perfect picture of a warrior of the Lord.  

Here is Ellie with a Magnetic Mosaic picture that we created today.  I just love the idea of creating a meaningful picture out of little bits that don't seem like anything until they are put together.   I was thinking of some of the amazing stained glass windows I have seen.  Amazing scenes are born out of broken pieces of glass, joined together in a meaningful way.    I love that Jesus takes all of the broken parts of our life, along with all of the good things and creates a beautiful picture of His plan and destiny for us.   He makes a "mosaic blueprint" and fits it all together perfectly.   It is such a comforting thing to know that He has created that blueprint for us.  Jesus can use all of the not so wonderful stuff that is hidden in our past, and then create something for His glory.  I know that I have lots of that hidden stuff and I love that Jesus is not only bringing that stuff out of hiding, he is turning it into something marvelous!   Looking at this picture above, I see all of the blessings that I have in those yellow, pink and white pieces.   I love that the red pieces remind me ...... especially this week.... of the great sacrifice of Jesus and His shed blood.   And each of those darker pieces, help me to not forget how much Jesus has done for me and in me.   Thank you Ellie for this wonderful picture that brought me to this place tonight. 

And just for a special bonus tonight, here is my sweet little Anna!   Can't wait to see her personality bloom!

Jesus, thank you for the lessons that we learn from children.   Thank you for all that you are doing in Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna.   Jesus, help us all to see the "big picture" mosaic of our life and to recognize what you have done, even in the dark and hidden places and to celebrate all that you are doing now.   Holy Spirit, thank you for revelation and clear pictures.  And thank you for the smiles of babies!   Amen

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Passover Celebration with friends....

Tonight I had the great honor of attending a Passover Seder.  It was a simply wonderful time.  I love seeing this important celebration from a Christian perspective.   I was thinking of those pictures that are "optical illusions" when there are really two very different pictures, and once you see one, you can't NOT see it.  Like this.....
This Passover celebration is like those pictures!  Once you see Jesus and how much he is represented in this Seder, it's hard to NOT see Him.   And when you add the New Testament celebration of Communion into the picture, it is simply amazing.   All through out the meal I was remembering my dream of a few weeks ago and the revelation I had last Sunday night.   I was imagining all of those chosen people of God, sitting down at tables all over the earth, saying the same words.   I am praying that the veils will be removed from their eyes and they would see their Messiah.   At the end of the meal, my friends and I were just talking and laughing and singing some spontaneous praise songs.  And I felt led to share the dream and the words I had from last Sunday.   My friend leading the Seder had a thoughtful look on his face.  And then he said, "well that sounds a lot like Isaiah 25:6-9.  
On the mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine- the best of meats and the finest of wines.  On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all people, the sheet that covers all nations.  He will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.  He will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.   The Lord has spoken.   In that day they will say, "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us.  This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."
Isn't that amazing?   It does sound a bit like my dream.  And from that verse, we prayed for all those people celebrating Seders around the world.  It was an awesome way to end this celebration.   You know, I almost didn't go to this dinner.   But late yesterday I knew that I needed to be there.   I am so thankful for that prompting of the Holy Spirit that nudged me to exactly where I needed to be today.  
This will be a wonderful Holy Week and Easter.  Even though there is SNOW in the forecast for tomorrow and tomorrow night! (Can you believe it???)  Jesus,  I am so thankful for the path that you have me on during this season.   Thank you, for Spring and new life and resurrection power.  Thank you for friends and for ancient celebrations that connect us to past generations and  help us look to the future.   Holy Spirit, bring that Passover miracle!  Amen

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The contrasts of today.........

Today is the day.  Three years ago today, I lost my mom.  She was truly more than just my mom.  We shared and laughed and enjoyed each other so much.  I just love this very old photo of us.  It is a "casual" photo - not posed.  And we don't have many pictures like that!  It was taken at "the lake". And I just love the look on my mom's face.   It was taken in 1955.  I assume that the cat belonged to my grandmother.  I know that she always had at least one cat around.  Most likely, she had brought it down to our cabin from the farm. I decided that this was the picture I would share today, in honor of my mom. I love remembering that she is now, celebrating with Jesus.

This has really been an amazing day, something that I didn't expect. First of all, it was actually WARM!  Like 75 degrees warm.  Remember that this winter was brutal and the ice and snow seemed to last forever!  So a day with the sun out and no coat required is really something to celebrate!  There was a short, very stormy period this morning, but it past quickly, and the sun came out again. 

And then the doorbell rang.  It was a neighbor telling us that a piece of siding near the peak of our house was "flapping in the breeze".  Needless to say, we ran out to take a look.  And there, on the OTHER side of the house, was the very loose siding. (See my post from November 29, 2013 - we had a piece of siding blow off in the same location - on the opposite side of the house)  Ken got out are very short ladder and our very long tree trimmer tool and tried to push that siding back so it wouldn't blow all the way off, lest we lose it!  Thankfully, as soon as he touched the piece, it fell to the ground.  So we are now in possession of THAT piece of siding.  However, there is still a LARGE piece that is loose. And it was Saturday, at noon.   The soonest that we could arrange for anyone to come out to repair this is Monday afternoon.  It is supposed to rain and storm over the next 24 hours, so we are praying that piece of siding stays put!  

To finish off the day I went to an amazing church service.  I just loved the wonderful worship and the sermon was great.   I felt as if the entire service had been planned for me.  The sermon topic was from 1John 5 beginning at verse 13.   It was about KNOWING! (See my comment from yesterday about Lia, just knowing).  The point was that knowing was more than understanding.  It was having absolute assurance. During the sermon the Pastor shared an interesting list of the contrasts that are expressed all through out the book of 1John.  Here was the list....

God (Love)      Satan (Sin)
Truth                 Lies
Light                 darkness
Life                   death
confidence        fear
love                   hate

The thing about this list is that these represent what it is like to live either in the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan.  Without the KNOWING and the assurance, when we are in the world, our life is filled with lies, darkness, death, fear and hate.  I am so blessed to have that knowing - the assurance of living in the Kingdom of the King of Kings!  A place of truth, light, life, confidence and love.  

In each of the events of today..... there is the contrast.   My mom died, but she is celebrating with Jesus!  There was a time of storms today, but the sun came out again!  Our siding came loose, but we were able to retrieve the piece - it wasn't lost!  We live IN the world, but we are not OF the world.  Coming into this Holy Week, I am so thankful that I have the assurance - that deep knowing that Jesus is all that I need.  I am so grateful for Jesus' work on the cross, and his marvelous resurrection! 

Jesus, thank you!   For contrasts, for blessings, for all that you do in our lives.  Thank you for guiding and directing us to the exact places that we need to be.   Thank you for memories, for moms and for the assurance of our eternal life!   Holy Spirit, help us all to spend time this week, remembering all that Jesus has done for us.   Thank you for the assurance that comes from KNOWING!  Amen

Friday, April 11, 2014

Celebrating Lia!

Yesterday I ended up in the "Orange" room..... filled with all the "after school" kids.  These are the first through fifth graders who join the pre-K and Kindergarten kids in the afternoons.  YIKES!  There were 31 of them!   Thankfully, it was very warm outside and we were able to go outside to the playground area.   So, there I stood with these kids that I don't know very well.  One boy seemed drawn to me and stood talking a mile a minute (as everyone else was running around playing tag).  We were talking about rock climbing and I told him my adult son has done rock climbing. This little chatterbox boy, stopped, looked up at me and said, "I knew you had adult children cuz you are old - I can tell by your neck"!  Okay, what is the appropriate response to that????  Thank you???  Sorry????   I don't think I actually said anything!  Sigh. 

I can't escape the fact that, yes, I am old.  I am a grandma!  Gwen was telling me that Lia recently had a "light bulb" moment when she realized that her beloved great grandma Nona (my mom), was her mom's GRANDMA!   She had just connected the fact that her mom's grandma had died.  And she began to think about her own grandma (think ME!) and wondering if she would lose me.  Thankfully, Gwen was able to put her fears to rest with a discussion that included the fact that no one knows how long their life will be (and also, thankfully, that I am younger than my mom was when Gwen was 8 years old). 
I certainly love my Lia.   She is so much like Gwen in so many ways, but she is most assuredly her own person.  I love how she is a deep thinker!  There are times when you can almost see the wheels turning in her head.  She has a depth of understanding about faith and Jesus that is amazing.   She just KNOWS that she KNOWS!   And she is not afraid to tell you just what she thinks! She loves to dance and sing and comes alive on a stage.  I can't help but reflect on the strong prophetic word given Lia when she was just born   She is a prophet of the Lord.  She will speak God's word, proclaim the truth and lead the people.  She is a "little bird with a big voice"!    I can't wait to watch as Lia grows to see all that Jesus will do in and through her.   Yes, I am blessed to be a Grandma!  
What a gift it is to be able to see our children and grandchildren not just with "worldly eyes" but with an eternal perspective.  I would encourage you all, to pray and seek revelation of the plan and destiny for your family.   The Holy Spirit will reveal so much if we just stop and ask.  It is amazing how much easier it is pray when you have a picture to pray into! 
Jesus, thank you for children and their forthright honesty.   Thank you especially for Lia and the special relationship that I have with her.   Thank you for Gwen and Tim and their reliance on your wisdom, Jesus, as they parent all of their children. Holy Spirit, continue to work in Lia as she becomes the woman you have planned her to be.  Jesus, speak clearly to all of us who ask for revelation.  Thank you for family, for grandchildren.  And thank you for the warm weather!   Amen

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Celebrating "Sibling Day" and Mom....

As I have said, April is a tough month for me.  I set out to celebrate this month with memories and sharing rather than trying to ignore this month.  Today I saw on Facebook that it is "Sibling Day".  And for the last several weeks, my Mom has been on mind.  So the above photo certainly fits today.  I think it may be the last photo of all of us together. It was taken at my mom's 90th birthday in 2005.   We actually managed to get EVERYONE to that event.   ALL of my siblings, ALL of the grandchildren, and ALL of the great grandchildren came that day.  My mom was so happy!  There is really nothing that made my mom happier than having us all together.   We had a family party on Saturday and most of us from out of town stayed at the same hotel (Lia affectionately called this hotel "the Castle Pool"!  She loved that hotel since it was a part of seeing Great Grandma Nona).   The party was held in the Community Room of my mom's apartment building. We took these family
pictures at that party.  Some of us were able to stay on Sunday and the celebration continued with a party for all of her friends, held in the dining room of her building.   It was wonderful to see the room fill up with her friends and family.   We had a wonderful time and mom was truly amazed that anyone would care that it was her 90th birthday.  She was surprised when she turned 95.  I remember that she told me she never expected to live that long.  I assured her that Jesus had plans for her and that there was much for her to accomplish.    I reminded her that there were many people in her building who needed  a smile and a kind word each day.  So she set out to make a difference each day right where she lived.   I saw the effect of this during many visits.  Yes, mom was well liked at that senior apartment. 

One of the benefits of being the youngest child, was that I got to hear all the stories about my siblings!   I believe that I heard about when each of them were younger much more than I heard stories about myself!  Mom loved to talk about Karen and Jerry when they babies.  I do think it is very interesting that because of our age difference, Karen and I had very different "birth" stories.  When Karen was born (in 1938), mom stayed in the hospital for 10 days! ON HER BACK in bed!  She was not allowed to walk anywhere until they sent her home.  I remember her saying that she was so weak from not moving around that she was afraid she would drop Karen!   Contrast that birth with my own in 1954.  Mom went to the hospital on Monday morning at around 5:30am, I was born at 7:10am.  On Wednesday morning the doctor suggested that she should go home since my dad had to leave town on business.   So she did! It was a small town and the doctor knew that she had plenty of help at home.   I heard stories about Karen and Jerry during the years my dad was in WWII.  I heard stories of Julie when she was sick.  I heard stories about Greg and the troubles that he got into as a small boy.   So, sorry to my siblings, but I think I know some of your "secrets"!  Mom made sure to share them with me.   I am so thankful that I got to listen to these stories.  Unfortunately, we have lost the art of "storytelling".  You know, that verbal passing on of family stories and history.   In a way, this blog is acting as my "storytelling".  

Jesus, thank you for my mom and the wonderful years that we had together.  Thank you for my siblings.  Holy Spirit, help us all to see the benefit of keeping our family history alive by sharing it!   Holy Spirit keep our eyes, ears and hearts open to see you working in our family times.  Jesus, thank you for giving me more reasons to celebrate and remember my mom.   Thank you for the spiritual heritage in our family.   Amen

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Problems that turn into blessings!

Yesterday I was reminded, once again, that sometimes a problem might actually be a blessing in disguise.  I was getting ready to leave Gwen's house, after another wonderful day with them, when my car seemed to be totally dead!   Now this is frustrating on several levels.  First of all, there is an almost brand new battery in this car - just purchased in November.  Secondly, I had another time when my car would not start.  When Ken came to figure out the problem (since it was just weeks after the new battery), he discovered that the cable to the battery was loose. So he connected the cable and tightened it and since that, everything has been fine.  Here we are, just a couple of months later and the car won't start.  When I opened the hood, there was the battery cable, NOT connected, AGAIN!  Thankfully, Tim was able to just push the cable on and the car started right away.  I got home just a bit later than normal and Ken was able to fix (for the time being) this battery problem.   As I was driving home I was thinking about this "problem".  In the morning I was reading a Facebook post by my Kenyan friend Lucy.  She was recounting all the ways that Jesus works in our daily life.  One of the ways she noted was through "problems".  As she said, sometimes the problem we face actually keeps us out of what might be a real disaster.   I was imagining the accident that I might have avoided or some other thing that I can't even imagine!   So, I am thankful for this blessing, yesterday. 

A few weeks ago, I had a dream.  In the dream there was a very large banquet table, and it was filled with the most amazing looking food.  I have a picture similar to the one above, hanging in my bedroom.  But in the dream, the chairs were all filled with people and the table (and the plates) were filled with food!  There were also lots of people standing around the table - which I thought was kind of interesting.  I felt that this dream had something to do with Communion, but it seemed that there was more.  While I knew that there was a message in this dream, I couldn't quite figure it out.  Then a couple of other things came up.  First, I saw a video of Heidi Baker describing the floods in Mozambique.  The short video brought me to tears.  I can't find the link to the exact video, but you can watch a more recent video about the flooding here Heidi Baker - flooding.   And then I got invited to a Passover Seder.  Well, these three things did not seem at all connected...........until I spent a very powerful hour in worship at HUB on Sunday night.  

I  can't explain exactly how I began to put these very odd pieces together, but what I began to see during worship was a FLOOD of the Holy Spirit and a FLOOD of revelation of exactly who Jesus is, that was going to happen all over the world at Passover Seder celebrations.   I felt that all of those people that were standing BEHIND the chairs in that dream, had not yet discovered the host of that banqueting table - Jesus.   It seemed that many people are "stuck in the mud" (which was shown very clearly in the Heidi Baker video) and while they are very close to the truth, they are not quite there.  I just love that Jesus may well be using that flood - that problem - in Mozambique as a blessing.  Please join me in praying for all of these things.  Pray for Heidi Baker, her ministry, and everyone in Mozambique.  Pray for all of those Passover Seders around the world.  Pray for a new and renewed revelation of Jesus in that special meal. There is plenty of room at that "Communion" table!  And pray for that flood of the Holy Spirit over all of us! 

Jesus, thank you for the reminder to see the blessing in every problem.   Thank you for speaking to me in dreams and bringing further revelation during worship.  Jesus, bless Heidi Baker and bring more of your provision and presence to Mozambique.  Yahweh, it is your plan that ALL would be saved.  Holy Spirit, bring revelation of Jesus during all of the Passover Seders.  Let there be a flood of new saints taking their places at that Communion table.   Amen

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Family time and new things!

Today was, indeed, a day of celebration!   We spent the day together as a family.  All of the kids and grandkids (but only 2 of the 3 "granddogs").  Yes, it was a sunny, warm and wonderful day.   And I am in the "celebration" mode!  We ate, talked, laughed and played with the kids.  Anna mostly slept.  We watched a little bit of a baseball game (since Zeke is always saying he wants "baseball" when you ask what he wants for his birthday).  However after a bit of watching the Cubs, (losing, of course), he decided that he doesn't like baseball very much.  

Yesterday my niece Susan, posted on Facebook that it was her 16th Wedding Anniversary.   I had forgotten that she got married in April.  But I remember the weekend of that wedding for lots of reasons.   First is this picture............
My sister Karen had suggested that we have this picture taken when we were all in Kansas City for Susan's wedding.  So, early on Saturday morning, we went to a studio and had this picture taken.   I am so grateful for this picture!   Not a typical "professional" picture since we were all sitting on the floor.  But I just love the casual nature of this picture.   And we spent a lot of time laughing as the photographer tried to get us all "arranged" for this shot.   It was memorable, to say the least.  But this is one of the few really good pictures I have of all of my siblings and my mom.   Hard to believe that it was 16 years ago.  And that my mom and my sister are both gone now. This picture is up in my bedroom and I look at it every day. 

The second really powerful memory I have of this weekend, 16 years ago, was the actual trip............the driving to Kansas City.  And the reason that my memory is so strong is that Doug was in High School and Gwen was in College.   Imagine that back seat.   Neither one of them really wanted to be in a car, making a very long drive.   And then there was the hotel.  Yes, we had a bigger "suite" hotel room, but they still ended up not very happy.   This was, in fact, the LAST time we ever went anywhere, in one car, on any kind of a trip.   So the memory marked the end of an era for our family.  

I just love that these two memories are framed, today, with the wonderful family time that we had.  I just love seeing Gwen and Doug as adults that seem to really like being around each other.   And I couldn't be more sure that it was God ordained that Tim and Susie are part of our family.  Seeing those  sweet little grandchildren certainly helps to change my perspective on being so disconnected from my own siblings.   So even when one "era" of my family seemed to end - car trips and vacations, there was this time today, another wonderful era for us.  And even though my mom and sister are no longer with us, that picture reminds me daily, of all that Jesus has done in my family. 

Don't you just love that even when it seems like things are ending, it really just means that there is some new thing just around the corner?   It can sure change the way you view things.  I was thinking about it today.  And I will add this wisdom into my memory bank so that the next time an "era" seems to be ending, my perspective will be in the right place.  

Thank you Jesus, for helping me to continue to celebrate the month of April.   Thank you for the reminder from Susan that brought me to these wonderful memories.  Mostly today, thank you for my family and all that you are doing in each person.   Holy Spirit, help us all to look beyond the endings to the new beginnings that you have planned and purposed for us.  And thank you for the very spring-like weather and the sunshine today!   Amen

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Work, reminders, a great photo, and reason to celebrate!

So today at work I had one of those "quick" realizations.  You know, the kind of thing that just pops into your mind at the strangest time?  I was trying to keep a group of 16 little three year olds "entertained" when there was about 40 minutes left until lunch time.   I had read a couple of books, but their interest (and desire) to sit still was simply not there.  On a better weather day (not 35 degrees and raining and windy) we would have been outside letting these kids run off their energy.  But sadly, not today.  So I used the wonderful (life-saving) CD's that Gwen had given to me, of active kid friendly songs.  We "Tapped our Toes", we chugged like "trains", we marched like "We are the dinosaurs", and we went "Fast and Slow".  (Note -  all of these are preschool songs). Then we sat down and did a couple of counting "finger-plays".  And it was just as I realized that there was still a good 15 minutes before lunch time, when I launched into "5 little Ducks".  Then, the realization hit me....... Most of the "good stuff" that I know to keep preschoolers happy is Christian based and therefore can't be used at my current job.  

It's funny how you know something, but then the reality of that fact just hits you in the face?   I would say that about 75% of my preschool music "library" (you know, the music that just pops into your head) is Christian.   I can't sing Jesus Loves Me or Arky Arky, at work!  Yep, this is a different playing field for me.   And it is certainly stretching me and giving me lots of things added to my prayer list every day.  

Which brings me to my actual topic for tonight's blog.  Remembering that I said that I was going to spend the month of April with a spirit of celebration, tonight I am celebrating this amazing picture!

I actually just downloaded the pictures from Ellie's 5th Birthday party (actually held on March 8), and here is the above picture!   I am celebrating this for several reasons.  First, it is a great picture of Ken holding Anna.  Not the most usual thing!  Most of the time I am the one holding the baby.   But on that day, I was busy helping with other things.  And then the fact that it is a picture of Ken and Gwen!  Another not so normal thing.   Usually, once again, it is ME and Gwen with Anna.   This photo is just so worth celebrating.   It is such a natural picture of both Ken and Gwen and Anna is peacefully sleeping.    It just makes me smile and makes my heart happy!  Yep, I love this picture!
Isn't it interesting how Jesus puts us in "out of the box" situations (like my current work), so that we have to rely on the Holy Spirit and not necessarily what comes most naturally for us?   And even though I am NOT using all those Christian, Biblical songs, every time one comes into my mind, I am reminded to shot up those arrow prayers for these children and their families.  I really celebrate those moments when the Holy Spirit reminds me that there is a plan and purpose for my current work situation.  And this picture of Ken and Gwen with Anna reminds me of the importance to catching those moments of celebration.  What a great reminder of the plan and destiny that Jesus has for my family.  
Jesus, thank you for preschool music, for finger plays and your gentle reminders.   Holy Spirit, your plans for us include putting us in sometimes difficult situations.  But you give us the courage, boldness and inspiration that we need to walk through them.   Thank you Jesus for family and the reminder of the bigger picture of your plans and destiny for us.  Thank you for giving me reasons to celebrate every day.  Amen  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Speaking to the Heart"

Over the last couple of months I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying about this book.   I have known Lynn Zuk-Lloyd, the author of this book,  for almost 33years!   I almost couldn't believe it when I started thinking about that.  That is a really long time.  I know it was that long because Gwen was a toddler and Doug was not yet born.   Lynn moved into my neighborhood and stopped by my house for a "craft sale" that another friend and I were having.  That year the "crafts" that I was making were mostly toys.   We had wooden dolls with clothes that attached with Velcro.  We made playmats for cars.  And also felt "books" that had lots of pieces to create various scenes. There was also several small dolls among other things.  It was a short lived "business", but really a lot of fun. Kind of the beginning of my interest in crafts and creating.   

Lynn is an amazing artist and author.   Over the years I have seen and read some of the books and art pieces and cards that she has created.   Lynn and I have had some really deep discussions about Jesus.  It has been such a joy to see how her relationship with Jesus has deepened and grown and enhanced her artwork.   She IS an artist!  I, on the other hand, am much more a "crafter". 

Which brings me to this book.   Lynn asked me to submit some "artwork" that I created for my grandchildren.   These "scrapbook" frames for Lia, Ellie and Zeke were birthed out of some very clear prophetic words that I received for them.  I have never really experienced "seeing" and "knowing" exactly what something is supposed to look like before it is actually completed.   But that is what happened with those frames.  A few days ago I completed the frame for Anna.  It was so satisfying.  I felt the completion of the series.  Soon I will share a picture of the final frame on this blog.

And now these three pieces of art are included in this book alongside some truly amazing artists.   I am humbled and awed at that fact.   I can see the hand of Jesus on this book.   It feels a lot like doing this blog.   Way beyond anything that I could do on my own.  The bigger thing is that there is a purpose that I don't understand fully.   What I do know is that there is a reason and I might not get it, but it is very real.  The book is available on Amazon and you will be blessed by the amazing art and stories contained in this book.  

Jesus, thank you for Lynn and her desire to follow your plan and destiny for her life.  Thank you for all of the artists represented in this book.   Bless them with continued inspiration and creativity.   Holy Spirit, would you get this book into the hands of people who most need to be encouraged by this message?  Thank you for divine connections and friendships.    Amen